This week the CSS language turns 20 years old and the W3 made a celebratory timeline that marks the most important achievements since the very first email that Håkon Lie sent in 1994. In that email he suggested a “style sheet scheme for HTML documents” and proposed a syntax that looked like this:
h1.font.size = 24pt 100%
Pretty weird, huh? That percentage at the end of the line? That would let developers override the cascade ("a degree of influence"), sort of like a more nuanced !important.
What this anniversary proves though is just how strangely fluid CSS is; everything about it is constantly in flux. Just think about the last few years with native CSS variables,
em/rem/vh/vw based design, keyframe animations and transitions, not to mention how responsive design forced us all to ditch what we knew about writing CSS and come up with new concepts for naming and organizing our code.
I hope that in the years to come, our current methods and best practices for writing CSS will look just as bizarre as table layouts and spacer gifs look to us all now. Just think about how CSS grids will change our layouts and how that’ll change our writing methods in turn. Or think about variable fonts. Or Houdini.
Here’s to the next twenty years of CSS! May they be just as weird and brilliant as the last.